Officially A Cranky Old Woman

April 22, 2018 | Filed Under Things I Think About | No Comments

Woot! I am officially a Cranky Old Woman! My letter to the editors at the San Francisco Chronicle was published!

 

This is the article on Minnijean Brown-Trickey, which was not important enough to be on the front page of the main section, but was instead relegate to the Local News section.

 

This story about five white stoner dudes from Marin County, who look like someone called Central Casting and said, “I need five actors who can play these characters who were friends in high school, and reunite for a weekend of grown up hijinks”, however, did merit the front page of the paper.

 

It’s not my first letter to the editor ever published, but I appreciate that they were willing to acknowledge the criticism.

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Oracular Arts and Crafts: A Rune Casting Tapestry, Part 4 and Final!

April 21, 2018 | Filed Under Oracular Arts and Crafts | No Comments

A refresher, since it’s been a while from the beginning of this project:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Well, THAT took much longer than I expected. Not in the total number of hours to complete, but the number of months (19 total) that it took me to put in the time. All things considered (such as my travel schedule for my day job), that’s not unrealistic, but I did have vague hopes of finishing it in one year.

And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for—the finished piece!

The Completed Piece

It’s not perfect. There are approximately 5,000 things wrong with it, but the important thing is that IT IS COMPLETE. DONE. FINIS.

I learned a great deal from doing this first piece.

*Two colors that look the same at night aren’t necessarily the same. To wit, the center piece in two different shades of cream. Sigh.
*A horizontal frame is not a good choice for my neck.
*Don’t weave when you’re tired. Or, at least, I shouldn’t. Pretty much every wonky bit of edge weirdness on this piece is a point where I thought, “I’m tired, I’ll just do two more rows and go to bed”. Yeah, no, STOP. Just stop weaving and go to bed.

However, I am pleased enough with it to use it. I dedicated it to the Nornir, and it’s now on my divination table/Loki altar/shared altar, and yay! It’s DONE!

Next, to test out a rigid heddle loom and see if that’s the way to go for the next project!

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Small Devotions: Feeding the Ancestors

March 25, 2018 | Filed Under Devotions | No Comments
King Edward Hotel, Toronto, 1919, John Chuckman

King Edward Hotel, Toronto, 1919, John Chuckman

I’m still figuring out my ancestor practice, with helpful suggestions from Karen Krebser, who has done quite a bit of her own work on the topic. Like the rest of my practice, it gets bumpy and doesn’t receive enough attention when I travel for work, but I’ve found a Small Devotion to help keep me focused on the practice, even when I’m jetlagged and not entirely sure what I’ve ordered at the hotel restaurant.

If there’s a bread plate, I’ll use that; if not, I ask for a separate, small plate, or sometimes just use a part of the plate I’m eating from, because some of them are huge and have enough real estate to set up a small village of offerings.

I set aside a bite of each thing I’m eating on the small plate, and add to it as additional courses are served if it’s that kind of meal. I add a bit of each beverage (my folk are really into wine) as well. And, of course, if I have dessert, the ancestors receive a bite. It’s all about dessert for so many of them—I think it’s programmed in my family of origin’s DNA that the meal is not complete without a treat!

Once I have the initial plate ready, I hold my hands over it and recite this blessing:

“May the Gods bless this food, my offering to my Ancestors, to nourish and nurture them in the afterlife, so they know they are remembered, honored, and loved.”

Simple, and short, but seems to be effective. None of them have complained to me about my choice of wording, at least. Occasionally, there’s questioning about what is being offered—”hey, last night we had an eight course meal and three kinds of wine, and now you’re giving us oatmeal and toast?”—but some of my more distant ancestors have different ideas about nutrition. Also, I have to watch my calorie intake; it’s not so much an issue for them.

If I’m dining alone, or with my spouse (who doesn’t share my practice, but does not die of embarrassment when I do this in public), I do this practice. If I’m at a business meal (which is often the case when traveling), I will simply make a small offering on one spot on my plate, and recite the blessing silently. If I’m in a situation where even that doesn’t feel comfortable, I don’t create the separate offering, and I recite this blessing silently:

“May the Gods bless this food, which nourishes me; as I eat, I share this blessing with my Ancestors, to nourish and nurture them in the afterlife, so they know they are remembered, honored, and loved.”

At home I don’t have to worry about reactions from business associates or random strangers, and I use the small plate method. I know some people set a full plate as an offering to the Ancestors, but in this day and age, setting out that much food to end up in the compost feels wrong. Instead, I offer a token portion to the Ancestors, and donate the money that would have gone to fill that plate to the local food bank. My Ancestors appreciate the acknowledgement of the token offering, and I appreciate that I can make a tangible difference to someone in my community.

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Community Altar for February 2018

February 25, 2018 | Filed Under Community Altar | No Comments

This month’s Community Altar is my Sigyn altar, rather than the standalone altar I usually create. I had some ideas about what to do this month, but wasn’t pleased with any of them. The resulting disarray on the Community Altar was indicative not only of the state of external situation of the community and world, but also an accurate reflection of my own inner chaos, and no one who isn’t me needs to deal with that. So, as I often do in difficult times, I turned to Sigyn, who has been a strong presence for me this month as I have dealt with grief and depression.

Sigyn is mentioned only a few times in the myths, and aside from her name and her marriage to Loki, we know little about her. She and Loki had two sons, Narvi and Vali, who were cruelly treated by Odin in revenge for Baldr’s death. Odin turns Vali into a wolf, who kills Narvi, as Sigyn and Loki are forced to watch. Loki is then bound in the cave, held to the rocks with the intestines of his dead son. Skadi nails a snake to the roof of the cave, which drips venom on Loki’s head. Sigyn stands guard over Loki, holding a wooden bowl to catch the poison, trying to shield him. She leaves only to empty the bowl when it fills, and returns quickly, to minimize the time he is exposed to the poison. Eventually, Loki breaks free of his bonds and escapes.

The myths do not say what became of Sigyn. UPG varies widely. Sometimes I have the sense that she is with Laufey on her leafy isle, recovering from her trials and helping others to heal from their own losses. Both are strong women, powerful women, and the idea of them working together as healers and counselors feels right to me.

Sigyn Altar

Sigyn Altar

The centerpiece of the altar is a beat up, scratched, scarred wooden bowl with a leaf pattern carved into the edge. It’s filled with a few red glass stones representing the poison, and many clear glass stones representing the water she uses to rinse the bowl. This reminds me that, whatever I am suffering, life holds more love than pain, even if it does not feel that way at this particular moment.

The four candles represent Sigyn, Loki, Narvi, and Vali. The angel figure on the right holds a dove, protecting it. The Guardian Angel candle on the left is identical to a small painting which hung over my bed when I was a child, with the angel guiding two lost children to the safety of home. There’s a sterling silver rose filled with rose petal potpourri for sweetness, four sprigs of lavender from my garden for peace and calm, and four mourning dove feathers left in my back yard by the birds who visit our feeders.

Many small and varied stones are scattered across the altar, including a rose quartz heart for love and healing. The glass bottle contains water (and is sealed with a cork, because Dust Happens). The scrying piece in the center is actually a piece of Mdina Glass I acquired in Malta, and with the four candles casting light into it, is wonderful to view with. I made the clay stand which holds it.

The butterfly wind chime serves as a focus for me; I ring the bells at the beginning of my work with her. Butterflies (for me) symbolize the soul, and the new life that awaits the caterpillar going through its dark time of being unmade and remade.

The flowers are refreshed every week; the type and color depend entirely on what’s available at the flower market.

The altar cloth is a piece I embroidered.

As the Mourning Mother, Sigyn understands your pain when you grieve. She understands your rage at the unfairness of life, and she understands your desire to strike back, and your impotent fury that there is no real way to do so. Sigyn reminds you to feel your pain, to weep your tears, to let your heart break fully so that you can begin to heal. Allow yourself to feel the grief, to mourn the loss, to weep and wail and keen. Suppressed grief is dangerous, eating at the heart and soul, darkening your spirit for the remainder of your years. Mourn, bless, and release; the release includes not only releasing the pain once you have acknowledged it, but also releasing yourself from the cave to rejoin life after the period of mourning, and to live fully each day.

As the Lady of Victory, Sigyn reminds you to persevere, to persist, to keep going. No matter how dark the cave, no matter how many times the bowl fills and must be emptied, no matter how many times you want to cry or scream or collapse in frustration, Sigyn reminds you that you can do this. Whatever it is, you can make it through the darkness, and emerge from the cave victorious, ready to once again be part of your family and community, to live and thrive and create a full, rich life.

May Sigyn bring you comfort in your pain, and help you move through your grief so that you can return to the world at peace with your loss, stronger in heart and soul, and ready to reconnect with your life and your purpose.

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A New Item for Loki’s Altar

February 13, 2018 | Filed Under Altars | No Comments

Because, if there’s anything He likes, it’s a new toy!

 

Yes, that is an authentic Marvel “Thor: Ragnarok” Hot Wheels Loki car in the corner of the altar!

The helmet isn’t detachable, but that’s probably for the best—I’d end up removing it and putting it back, over and over, giggling madly, instead of, you know, meditating or something.

The full altar, which is shared with The Nornir, Vor, Mordgud, Heimdall, and Sleipnir:

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